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‘The Golden Age of Audio Consumption’

| September 11, 2014

NAB/RAB Radio Show & RAIN Summit coverage by consultant Holland Cooke


cookewriterINDIANAPOLIS — An advertiser on one of my client stations recently asked, “Aren’t you guys worried about SiriusXM?”  With Pandora and iTunes and satellite radio and podcasting now competing for attention and ad dollars, it’s not hard for AM/FM radio to feel surrounded.  Yet, “despite a constantly changing audio landscape, broadcast radio controls more than half of the more than four hours a day that Americans spend with all sources of audio,” according to Edison Research.

You may have read about Edison’s recently-fielded “Share of Ear” study, billed as first-ever measurement of all audio consumption.  Topline numbers initially released:

*  AM/FM Radio: 52.1%

*  Owned music (CDs, digital music files, etc.): 20.3%

*  Internet Radio/Music (Pandora, Spotify, etc.): 11.6%

*  SiriusXM: 7.7%

*  TV music channels (e.g., Music Choice): 5.2%

*  Podcasts: 1.7%

*  Other: 1.5%

Edison syndicated the next level of detail, so what’s above is probably all you’ve read from this research…until now.  Edison President Larry Rosin, speaking at the RAIN Summit here dove deeper:

Pandora is King Kong of Internet Radio consumption, with 68% of Time Spent Listening.

In the 25-54 “money demo” AM + FM + Internet breaks down this way:

*  AM/FM: 81.7%

*  Pandora: 12.0%

*  Other Internet: 6.3%

Audio listening by content type:

*  Music: 80%

*  Personalities/Talk Shows: 9%

*  News: 8%

*  Sports: 3%

Audio listening by device:

*  AM/FM receiver: 50%

*  Mobile device: 18%

*  Computer: 12%

*  SiriusXM receiver: 6%

*  TV audio channels:6%

*  CD player: 5%

*  Other: 2%

*  Internet-connected TV: 1% 

Quick!  Glass-half-empty?  Half-full?

Do those numbers give those of us in legacy media comfort?  Or are new-tech media inroads a red flag?  If Edison repeats this study on an ongoing basis, as it does its “Infinite Dial” series, we’ll know more next time.  Meantime:

*  Much of what RAIN Summit attendees heard Tuesday sounded glass-half-empty.  ICYMI, my notes: http://www.radioinfo.com/2014/09/10/radio-roundup-indy/

*  Glass-half-full perspective from Edison president Larry Rosin: “America is in a ‘golden age of audio consumption.’  Seeing that Americans spend roughly a fourth of their waking day listening to some sort of audio confirms it.”   

“We should be bullish about radio’s future.”

In his Radio Show address, NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith declared that “despite all the competition for consumers’ attention – from the Internet, personal listening devices and other emerging technologies, radio’s brightest days are ahead.”

“Why?  Because no other medium has what broadcasting has – its connection to local communities.

Our challenge is to now take broadcasters’ commitment to localism and to expand that to other platforms that will continue to build a strong future for radio.”

Ditto opening remarks from RAB president and CEO Erica Farber.: “New technology has allowed our listeners to fall even more deeply in love with radio. Now they can text or Tweet or follow or ‘like’ their favorite stations, or personalities. They email, they comment, they interact. This is not just dating anymore, people. This is marriage.”

What both industry (cheer)leaders’ pep talks presume is that localism Smith referred to.  Winning stations sure do enjoy the interaction Farber described because they engage to-begin-with, by giving  listeners something they can’t get from non-local newcomer media and competing stations less committed to local programming than Marconi Award winners NAB will salute here this week and Crystal Award winners who earn applause at NAB’s big show in Las Vegas each April.

More notes from Indy here tomorrow.  And follow my real-time Tweets today @HollandCooke.


Holland Cooke is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; and he covers industry conventions for TALKERS and RadioInfo.  His web site is HollandCooke.com

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Category: Analysis